The air will bustle with bluesy rhythms and will resound with improvised harmonies at 8 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 19.

Local and regional musicians will gather to play a free concert at Nazareth College Arts Center as a tribute to jazz bassist Bob Stata. This influential teacher, leader, musician, composer and friend to many was lost by the Rochester musical community and the entire jazz world to brain cancer on June 14.

Stata attended the Eastman School of Music and earned his bachelor’s of music in bass performance. He completed his master’s in music education at Nazareth College.

Bob Sneider was an undergraduate when he first heard Stata and eventually became friends with him. The two began to play together – Sneider on the guitar and Stata supplying his expert bass rhythms. Sneider, now a professor of jazz guitar at Eastman, recalls the musical mentorship he received from Stata, beginning what would result in a 17-year career together and an ever-deepening friendship.

Stata became a staple of the Rochester music scene, performing in the Bob Sneider Trio and the Mambo Kings, as well as in the celebrated Rochester International Jazz Festival. As a member of the Mambo Kings, he performed in pops concerts for many groups such as the Dallas and Baltimore Symphonies.

For the last 10 to 12 years, Stata oversaw classical and jazz ensembles at Allendale Columbia School in Rochester, where he lived with his wife Claudia and his two children Akria and Kai.

Though Stata’s life before his diagnosis had already been well established, his life after that point was equally, if not more productive and meaningful. In this time, he was able to produce something marvelous – a final CD titled “The Pulse,” with songs written by Stata during an 18-month period, aided and produced by his good friend Paul Hofmann – a piano performer and composer with MHR Records. The CD, due to be released next week, includes liner notes written by Hofmann, exhibiting highlights of Stata’s remarkable story as only an intimate friend could describe them.

“After complaining of headaches for some time,” Hofmann writes, “jazz bassist-composer Bob Stata, my friend and colleague of 20 years, suddenly and surprisingly found himself diagnosed with a terminal illness in late 2003. His first response? To write the most upbeat tune imaginable.”

Sneider remembers his friend in the same exact way.

“All throughout his year and a half battle [with cancer] he played through the illness,” Sneider recalls.

One of the most memorable times was Stata’s last concert on Dec. 31, 2004, with Sneider and fellow musician Mike Kaupa by his side. That New Year’s Eve performance marked the end of Stata’s performance career.

He had a highly stimulating one-year period of composition from Dec. 2003 to Dec. 2004, working through a tremendous burst of creativity. The liner notes tell of Stata’s intense last six months as Hofmann faithfully continued to visit his friend to write songs – Stata singing or playing the piano and Hofmann transcribing the melodies.

“It was my great privilege to be of assistance by transcribing Bob’s wonderful musical thoughts throughout these 12 months,” Hofmann said. “Many of the tunes were first improvised by him at his piano, some melodies were simply sung or hummed and at least one was ad-libbed on the double-bass as I hurriedly wrote down his notes and rhythms. My sole aim was to faithfully transcribe Bob’s vital musical ideas without inadvertently adding any of my own.”

Bob Stata’s mastery of the jazz genre will certainly be remembered on Saturday, as musicians and friends from New York City to Rochester light up the night in celebration of his life and achievements.

Hiler can be reached at khiler@campustimes.org.



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